This is a common cry I hear from clients, and one I have said myself, even just recently. It has caused me to pause and ponder on what it is that creates overwhelm.
When I am feeling overwhelmed:
- I may have an expectation of myself that I am not meeting. And meeting it seems dauntingly overwhelming.
- I may be juggling too many things and am so cluttered in my head and/or physical environment that I cannot see the straight line in order to prioritize.
- I may be dealing with multiple distractions and behaving like I cannot manage them.
- I may have not gotten enough sleep, good nutrition, or exercise.
- I may have extended beyond the boundaries of what I know I can handle.
- I may not have used my voice to express my healthy limitations.
- I might be focusing on the future and worrying about what might happen.
And the list goes on and on. Looking back on these, it is easy to see that overwhelm often originates from thoughts and feelings, which then drive behavior. Could that mean that if you were to change your thoughts, then your experience with overwhelm would be different? I think it is more than that. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you may want to explore what belief system you are operating under and if that belief system is helping or hindering you.
Let’s take a few points from above and try to unpack them. These are real life examples that clients and I have “unpacked,” only to discover a belief that is creating the thought pattern, which in turn creates overwhelm!
Overwhelm: “I may have an expectation of myself that I am not meeting. And meeting it seems dauntingly overwhelming.”
Old Belief System: “I am not good enough.”
New Belief System: “I am significant as who I am in this moment and I value growth so I will continue to learn as life presents itself.”
You can clearly see that when you believe that you are not good enough you never will be good enough, regardless of what you have accomplished. That belief will always be whispering in your ear. We have the ability to change our belief systems. This client changed their belief to one that not only accepts who they are in this moment; it also includes honoring a value of learning in a way that removes expectation on a timeline. Which operating system do you want to function under?
Overwhelm: “I have been so busy! I may have not gotten enough sleep, or ate well, or exercised. I am tired and have no energy to do my work. ”
Old Belief System: “I believe I have to take care of others first, and then myself.”
New Belief System: “I believe I need to put my oxygen mask on first if I want to have the energy to serve others and have peace for myself.”
Once you change a belief system, it is important to be aware of when you are operating under the old belief system and what triggered it. For me, a major trigger is tiredness. The tiredness could come from a number of the examples above, lack of boundaries, limitations, self care, no voice, over focused on the future, etc. Knowing this, it is easy for me to do a quick inventory of what belief system I am operating under and shift my focus to one that serves me well.
Practicing a new belief system, combined with deep breathing and getting present to the moment, have helped me and my clients to get or stay out of the overwhelm. Consider a new operating system and then see how quickly things get done!